Open Letter to the First Fruit of My Womb
It was a bright Tuesday morning at 9 on 12th December 1995 when you were born. Be proud, sweetheart, for you share your birthday with your country, Kenya. Mummy was barely older than you are now, but so thrilled. This was the happiest day of my life, to have held a human being I could call my own, the miracle of life, in my arms.
I did not know how to hold you, neither did I know how to wrap you in shawls, change your clothes or nappies, but no mother in the world was happier. I did not have a job, thus spent most of my time just gazing at you as you slept, because you really loved to, and still sleep a lot.
We did not have much to survive on. We bonded everyday, and as the days turned to months and years, and your sister joined us three years later, the bigger our problems grew. There came a time when there wasn’t anything to eat in our shack, and we would take some water, your dad, you and myself, for days on end. Baby Val used to suckle my breast for whatever milk could come out after a diet of water alone. I loved you so much, baby gal, you never used to cry.
When it was unbearable, and we couldn’t sleep after sipping our gallons of water, we would wake up and trek from Dandora, our slum, to Umoja, where your grandma’s sister used to stay, if only for them to share a meal with us. I remember your strong little feet, and how uncomplainingly you matched my shortened steps for all those kilometers as I carried Val on my back. You were only 4 years old. After filling our stomachs, and knowing that Daddy was at home hungry, with the scorching sun, we would start the journey all over again, from Umoja to Huruma, my sister’s place. We would fill our bellies again and since she was a closer relative, we would be bold and borrow some food to take home with us. Never mind that we even used to carry their leftovers and anything that was on offer, as long as it was edible. Sometimes auntie would have some money and give us KShs. 20/= on top! Armed with our variety of foodstuff, Val strapped to my chest now, because the precious food took her earlier position, you used to take my hand and we would start our journey back to Dandora on foot again. We would walk to Wamwares, where we used to board a matatu in order to pay only KShs. 5/= as fare from Phase 1 to Phase 5 where we stayed.
We were dead on our feet, but we had food and some money. I remember when we got home, you would collapse in a corner and fall asleep until the next morning. Your tiny feet would be swollen fat when you woke up, and would be too painful, even for you to stand up. You would scream in agony. It would take a whole week for the swelling to go down, though the blisters usually took a bit longer.
It was too painful for me to watch you suffer, so I decided to finish my education from where I had dropped out of school, went on to college, and armed with my results, went in search of a job. It was tricky, so I gave it all up, preferring to do odd jobs in order for us to survive decently.
I have managed to educate you both this far, and because you only have a year to finish high school, I am praying that God will take care of you and your siblings for me, that none of you will ever suffer the same fate I did. I believe in the power of education. It has brought me this far, from grass to grace. Hold it with both hands, respect your elders, society and the rule of law, and happiness, which I wish for you, will be yours for the rest of your days. I want my grandkids’ mum, when the time comes, to be free of worries. Just as we trekked together with Val on my back, I am hopeful that you will have a car seat in which to strap my grandchild when you drive over to visit me.
All the best, my dearest, the first fruit of my womb.
I will never stop loving you and your siblings.
Lots of love, hugs and kisses,